Friday's Food For Thought

 They say that every cloud has a silver lining.  So, despite all of the 2020 hardships - and for some, 2020 has been beyond hard - I believe that we will one day look back upon this time and realize that it taught us some valuable lessons.

Many of us, after being forced to stay home for weeks upon weeks, have learned that home is not a bad place to be stuck.  Many have gained a renewed affection for being at home.

We've learned that taking life a little slower is not necessarily a bad thing.  Life can sometimes be so busy with activities that we actually forget to enjoy it! 

We've learned we can get by with less and we've learned to appreciate the little things.

Many will emerge from 2020 with a greater sense of self-sufficiency.  We've planted gardens and grown our own food - some for the first time ever.  We've used the time to learn to knit or crochet or sew or cook or bake.  We've learned what our ancestors already knew - that the work of self-sufficiency is honest work, tiring work, but satisfying work.

The slow fashion movement and slow food movement have gained in popularity over 2020... out of necessity perhaps, and not because we suddenly became enlightened.  The important thing is this:  we've learned to make... and to not only enjoy what we make, but also to enjoy the making.   We've learned that there is quality in home-made.  And we've learned that it's easier than we thought.

Nothing illustrates this better than the rise in popularity of bread-baking, and specifically sourdough bread baking - the old fashioned way.  This is evidenced by the fact that flour and yeast has, at times, been difficult to find on the grocery shelves.

Personally, I was late to the bread-baking party.  But, like most hesitant guests, I ended up having a blast.  I may have even over-stayed my welcome.

I will be honest with you.  I actually have baked a lot of bread in my day... good yeasty breads that I could make in an afternoon...   or breads that were ready at suppertime after dumping the ingredients into a bread machine that morning.  This kind of bread-baking was like dating.... no commitment necessary.

  I even dipped my toe in the sourdough craze a couple of times.  However, those times I was unable to make a commitment and my sourdough relationship withered away.  No, literally... the sourdough withered away in my refrigerator.

It wasn't until the end of this summer that I finally said "I do!" , and bread-baking became an integral part of weekly life.  I am now happily committed to a deeply satisfying relationship with my sourdough starter.

Today I would like to extend an invitation to you... especially if you have been on the fence with regards to baking bread at home.  They say, "try it - you'll like it!"  I am here to tell you - it is easier than you think.  Although bread-baking requires a good deal of time, it is not time that you must spend working on the bread.  The dough does the work -  over time.  So, yes, there is a time component, but it can easily be fit around all of your other daily activities.

What is the difference between store-bought breads and home-baked sourdough breads?

1.  The technique is different.  Sourdough bread utilizes slow fermentation that is accomplished by wild yeast and lactobacillus... thus giving it that (at least) slightly sour taste or fragrance.

2.  Sourdough bread has the benefit of containing pre-biotics as a result of fermentation which is beneficial to gut bacteria (the bacteria in your digestive tract... one of the newest areas of medical research is that of our microbiome, or the bacteria that inhabit our bodies.  We are learning more and more each day about how important these bacteria are for our general health.)

3.  Sourdough bread is more easily digestible and less likely to cause bloating.  Bread that has been slow-fermented, as sourdough is, contains a greater amount of soluble fiber.

4.  Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than store-bought bread, so it will have less of a tendency to cause spikes in blood sugar.

5.  Each loaf baked is one less plastic bread bag and plastic bread bag closure that ends up in the trash or in the ocean.  Of course, you know this is a major selling point for me!

What is the typical timing of my bread baking?

Although it takes me two days to bake a loaf or two of bread, there is really very little work involved.  Here is an example of my timeline:

Day one, morning:  I feed my sourdough... mixing equal parts of sourdough, flour and water.  I allow it to sit on the counter, covered, until I am ready for the next step.

Day one, evening:  I mix the sourdough starter, flours, water, salt and whatever "add-ins" my recipe calls for and allow it to stand for a half hour.  I then set my timer for 30 minutes and fold the dough by simply slipping my hand along the side of the bowl and grabbing the dough and folding it over onto the center of the dough...working my way around the bowl.  I repeat this every 30 minutes two more times.  Then I cover the dough and let it sit on the counter til the next morning.... to rise.

Day two:  I dump the dough onto my floured counter 

and fold it once again, then shape it into a ball.  

The dough is then put into a bowl lined with a cotton kitchen towel (I use a wicker banetton that has been floured.)  The dough is allowed to proof for 45 minutes to an hour. 

 At this point the dough is scored ( a little vent cut into the top) and placed in a pre-heated Dutch oven to bake in the oven.

It's that simple. 

My favorite recipe is THIS ONE.  It makes the best seeded multi-grain loaf.  I have begun adding pumpkin seeds and raisins to the recipe as well and we love it.  It makes a three pound loaf of bread!

If you need reference books, these are excellent!

I am planning on doing a bread-baking video in the near future.

I have learned that although having a relationship with your sourdough starter is a commitment, there are lots of wonderful things that you can make with it, other than bread.  You can make pizza dough, pancakes, English muffins... the possibilities are endless.  This week, I made crumpets.

Crumpets are incredibly easy and a good way to use up a good portion of your sourdough starter if you are not going to bake bread right away.  Just remember to retain a portion of your starter to feed and place back in the refrigerator so that you have some when you need it!

Sourdough Crumpets

1 cup sourdough starter (unfed)

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ to ½ tsp. salt

⅜ tsp. baking soda

Mix your ingredients.  They will become frothy.  Pour into greased egg rings, or muffin rings, or pancake forms that you have lying on buttered griddle (on medium-low). Allow your batter to cook until the top becomes set.  Large bubbles will occur and cause lots of nooks and crannies. 

 When the top is set, you can remove the ring and flip the crumpet to the other side to finish baking ... about 3 more minutes... or until the griddle side is golden brown.

Serve with butter and jam.

They can be stored and reheated in your toaster.

Baking bread has become a satisfying part of every week.  I normally bake two loaves... one for us and one to give away to family.  

Storing your bread in the refrigerator can help it last, however, after doing so, it is best that you toast it.  Refrigeration causes the starches in the bread to recrystallize... which actually ends up causing the bread to stale more quickly.   This can be undone by heating it. We have found that we consume a loaf of home-baked bread before it has a chance to mold.  And happily, all of this sourdough bread has not made a difference in our waistlines!


Lynne said…
“Food For Thought” was wonderful . . .
What family member receives a loaf
of your sourdough bread this week?
No doubt about Beverly . . . you are amazing!
Marcia LaRue said…
I have gotten into making potato bread ... just made 2 more iloaves yesterday. They do last well in a ziplock bag in the fridge.
If I get ambitious, I will make my own tortillas, as well.
You and Jack work off any extra slices of bread you might eat ... not everyone is lucky enough to have their own BHA to keep them (me) slim and trim! LOL
daisy g said…
The thing I loved about making my own bread was the way the kitchen smelled! Unfortunately, I am now gluten-sensitive and can no longer eat conventional bread. Your breads and crumpets look divine.
Have a slice for me!
Carolyn said…
After reading your post a few posts back, I ordered some platinum instant sourdough yeast. Now I can't find your recipe where you used this. Could you please send me the post? Thank you so much!
Diane said…
There is nothing like the smell of bread baking in the oven! I bet your house smells lovely. Looking forward to bread baking video. I used to bake all of our bread using the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day", but now that hubby is Keto and I am Gluten Free, I haven't been baking bread anymore. It is truly one of the things I miss the most. You have inspired me to start baking some gluten free artisan loaves.
Bee Haven Bev said…
Carolyn... I have never used that particular yeast product that you mentioned. Years ago, I ordered sourdough starter from King Arthur but that is different from what you are using. It is a product that I am not familiar with. My sourdough comes from homemade store-bought yeast was used in the making of it....only wild yeast from the flour and the atmosphere. The other bread recipes that I have written about in the past used conventional baker's yeast.
I love the look of your maple leaf crumpets!
This N That said…
Informative Friday!!! Your bread is soooo good..I'll bet it's even better when it's warm :) and the smell from the oven..heavenly!! Your mantel looks wonderful....ENjoy your weekend..I think summer is finally gone even though there are some 60's in our future..Full moon this weekend..Happy Halloween...??Going trick or treating??Hugs
jaz@octoberfarm said…
your bread is beautiful! nothing is more satisfying to me than bread baking. i make bread about 3-4 times a week.
Carolyn, what an honor to be linked from your blog. Your bread is beautiful and, your sentiments so needed. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for sharing, making, putting beauty into the world and a smile on my face.
Boni said…
Well Said! Starting to like this simple life but can’t wait for 2020 to be over! May just have to start baking bread. Yours looks heavenly! Thank you for the recipe!
Thank you Bev! I love hearing all about your bread-making techniques. I can smell that delicious bread from here!